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Live from Nashville, day three ...

5

December

EARLY EVENING UPDATE: Whatever the Rays were working on during the day - and executive VP Andrew Friedman acknowledged they may have been close to a deal - isn't likely going to happen tonight, and may not happen at all.
Friedman said they talked to a number of teams and agents about a bunch of different things, but nothing was imminent. Interesting, the talks did expand beyond the search for a lefthanded hitting outfielder, but he wouldn't get specific.
And there's yet another name to consider, as the agents for Tampa native Luis Gonzalez told espn.com that the Rays are one of several teams they've been in contact with.

Otherwise, it's very quiet tonight on the overall trade front, with many team officials headed to an awards banquet.

LATE AFTERNOON UPDATE: Here's another interesting possibility as a lefthanded hitter to be acquired in trade - Laynce Nix.
He was designated for assignment on Wednesday by the Brewers, which means he is very available. He spent most of last season at Triple-A Nashville, hitting .268 with 24 homers and 74 RBIs, and got only 12 big-league at-bats, and didn't get a hit.
Nix, 27, was acquired from Texas in July 2006, having played parts of four seasons with the Rangers, playing a career-high 115 games in 2004. Overall, he has a .238 career average in the big leagues with 29 homers and 118 RBIs.

Andrew Friedman will have his daily media briefing at around 6 Tampa Bay time, details as they happen.

AFTERNOON UPDATE:
The Rays sure appear to be  working on something, based on the frequency in which manager Joe Maddon was checking his text messages during the annual manager's lunch. The chance of news today might be 50-50, but there's nothing set at this point.

In checking through the list of lefthanded-hitting outfield-playing trade possibilities, one name that could make sense is Andre Ethier, the Dodgers'  25-year-old who hit .284 with 13 homers and 64 RBIs.

It seems less likely that the Rays are interested in bringing back Josh Hamilton, who is being made available by the Reds. In other ex-Ray news, Jorge Cantu was released today by Cincinnati.

The Rays and Twins shared a table at lunch, but Maddon and Ron Gardenhire did a good job of not talking shop, with no chatter about Delmon Young, Matt Garza or Jason Bartlett. Gardenhire did talk about how much he loves St. Pete - having trained there when he played for the Mets - and has thought of someday retiring to Treasure Island.

Also ran into Ben Zobrist - who lives in the Nashville area and came by the hotel to see his agent and manager Joe Maddon - and he said he is feeling good and ready for spring training.

The Rays got some good news at mid-day, being named Organization of the Year by the Topps Co. The award is based on the number of players in an organization that wins Topps awards during the season, such as players of the month and minor-league all-star teams.

The Tigers-Marlins trade has gone through, with the official announcement at 4 p.m. eastern.

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There's some major questions lingering as the winter meetings have moved past the halfway point, such as:

whether the Twins are going to trade ace Johan Santana? (Maybe not this week, anyway, as Minnesota manager Ron Gardenhire  said this morning "nothing's happened and nothing's imminent.")

whether the Orioles are going to trade Erik Bedard or the A's are going to trade Dan Haren? (There's been lots and lots of talk, so maybe.)

whether the Marlins-Tigers blockbuster is going to become official? (It should be, perhaps later today, as all eight players have to get medical clearance.)

and whether there is any point in going outside the Opryland biosphere for what would be the first time since getting here on Sunday? (Don't bet on it - it's in the 50s now and headed to the 30s!)

So far it's been an uneventful morning, filled mainly be the managers' media sessions as each one - except Joe Torre, by tradition) - sits for a half four and takes questions.

The most Tampa Bay-relevant comments of the morning were by Twins manager Ron Gardenhire, who raved about the players sent to the Rays, RHP Matt Garza and SS Jason Bartlett, and also said he had no worries or concerns about Delmon Young and that he would start in Minnesota with "a clean slate."

From a Rays standpoint, they are expected to continue talks today with other teams and agents about filling their need for a lefthanded hitter who can play the outfield, but are not under any urgency to make a deal here.

The free agent market isn't very promising and the trade market doesn't appear particularly deep, but one interesting name being speculated upon in the media room is former Ray Josh Hamilton.

The Reds need starting pitching, which the Rays have in some excess, but the question would be whether the Rays want to revisit Hamilton's past, as the No. 1 draft pick whose career was nearly ruined by drugs, then resurrected after he was lost in last year's Rule 5 draft as he made an amazing comeback to play in the big leagues.

Otherwise, it's the same group of candidates that has been talked about.

More to come.

[Last modified: Monday, December 21, 2009 12:33am]

    

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